TOKYO - Japan Tuesday expressed national thanks to former world champion figure skater Mao Asada, a day after she shocked the country by announcing her retirement from competition. The 26-year-old Asada said she was hanging up her skates, sparking TV stations to flash the news on screen. By Tuesday morning, public broadcaster NHK was reporting the retirement as its top news item, squeezing out rising geopolitical tensions on the neighbouring Korean peninsula. All the sports dailies ran inside headlines expressing emotions such as "Thank you, Mao" and "Thank you, beloved Mao".